THE MISSOURI Valley, which annually has one of the best tournaments, might get two NCAA bids if the seeds hold. Monmouth will try to avoid another heartbreak, and the Patriot League has had five different tournament champions over the last five years. Two more leagues start Thursday, while the Patriot moves into its quarterfinals.


Championship: Monday, March 6, in Albany (9 p.m., ESPN2).

Three things: Monmouth is 26-5 and the No. 1 seed for the second year in a row. Last season, the Hawks were 27-7 following an upset loss to Iona in the conference title game. They had five marquee nonconference wins, including Georgetown and Notre Dame, yet were left out of the NCAA Tournament. Their resume this year isn't as sterling. Though the Hawks have won 13 in a row, they have to win the conference tournament to get an NCAA bid . . . Monmouth's Justin Robinson is in line to win his second consecutive MAAC player of the year, which will be announced Friday. Robinson led the league in scoring - and is Monmouth's all-time D-I scoring leader - despite being just 5-8 . . . St. Peter's Quadir Welton, from Math, Civics and Science Charter, was a first-team all-league selection.

Upset watch: St. Peter's, the No. 2 seed, has given Monmouth fits this season. They were the last team to beat the Hawks, winning at home by 10 on Jan. 2. They also took Monmouth to overtime in the rematch.

NCAA Tournament outlook: This is a one-bid league. ESPN's Joe Lunardi projects Monmouth to be a 13 seed.


Championship: Sunday, March 5, in St. Louis (1 p.m., CBS).

Three things: This is the first time in the 110-year history of the Missouri Valley that two teams tied for the regular-season crown with 17-1 conference records. Illinois State (34) had a better overall RPI mark than Wichita State (40) and was given the No. 1 seed. They split the season series, with the home team winning each time . . . Northern Iowa, which blew a 12-point lead in the last 34 seconds to Texas A&M to cost it a berth in the Sweet 16 last year, is the third seed . . . Wichita State's Landry Shamet is just the second freshman in 65 years to make the all-MVC first team. Creighton legend Doug McDermott (2011) is the other. Shamet redshirted last year after suffering a broken foot similar to the injury Ben Simmons has.

Upset watch: Illinois State is in line to get the winner of Loyola/Southern Illinois in the semifinals. Both tested ISU late in the season, losing by just two and four points, respectively.

NCAA Tournament outlook: Lunardi has Wichita State as a No. 8 seed and Illinois State as a No. 11. ISU needs to win this tournament more than the Shockers.


Championship: Wednesday, March 8, at higher seed (7:30 p.m., CBSSN).

Three things: Bucknell junior Nana Foulland became just the second player to win the league's player of the year and defensive player of the year awards in the same season. Former Bison big man Mike Muscala, who is playing about 19 minutes per game for the Atlanta Hawks, pulled it off in 2012-13 . . . Colgate's Will Rayman had 34 in a December win over Lafayette to break Adonal Foyle's league record for points in a game by a freshman. He was the Patriot rookie of the year . . . Army beat American U. and Loyola (Md.) outlasted Lafayette in Tuesday's first round.

Upset watch: Lehigh, the third seed, beat Bucknell twice. They wouldn't meet until Wednesday's championship game.

NCAA Tournament outlook: This is a one-bid league. Joey Brackets has Bucknell as a No. 14 seed.